1996 – Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, East Timor leader
Beginning at the age of three when his father died as a result of severe wartime beating inflicted by the Japanese, Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo has seen more tragedy than most of us will ever even read about.
In 1975, when the Indonesian invasion of East Timor began, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo was training for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1980, five years into the invasion. The following year, Belo’s brother, uncles and cousins were used as “human shields,” forced to march in front of Indonesian troops to flush out guerrillas.
While unfailing in his determination that East Timor should be free, Bishop Belo never lost his belief in non-violence and dialog as a solution. His leadership was integral in bringing the Timorese population through a tragedy of an almost incomprehensible scale, to where they are today — an independent democracy.
Often persevering under threat of death, this courageous Bishop has become a symbol of fortitude, dignity, and hope.